Early Childhood, Inclusive Education, and Higher Education.
All children with developmental disabilities (DD) deserve access to early education and intervention services that promote success and independence. When children with DD have appropriate, individualized, and quality education alongside their non-disabled peers, they are more prepared for life after they graduate. TCDD support in this area includes projects and activities to help children and young adults with DD gain the knowledge and skills they need to attend college, find jobs, and pursue opportunities for meaningful participation in their communities.
Over the past several decades, TCDD has funded projects that focus on early childhood intervention and inclusive education as well as higher education. The following projects are in progress or have recently been completed.
TCDD encourages policy change so people with disabilities are fully included in their communities and control their own lives. Our Public Policy Priorities include the following language on early childhood intervention and inclusive education.
Ensure children with disabilities ages 0-22 receive necessary services to promote healthy growth and development to support long-term success and independence. Children with disabilities in Texas deserve access to quality care and education such as inclusive childcare, therapy and case management services, special education services, and transition planning, which meet or exceed federal standards to increase childhood and long-term outcomes.
Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) Services: Address the gaps between state funding and the required services for a growing population of infants and toddlers who enroll in ECI. Support efforts to maximize and streamline funding for ECI in Texas by working collaboratively with other state agencies, ECI programs, and lawmakers. Support efforts to increase efficiencies within ECI by addressing continuing eligibility, engaging in state-specific research on ECI’s long-term impact, and ensuring families are fully educated about available services, including Medicaid waiver interest lists.
Early Pickups: Require documentation for all school-initiated early pickups and shortened school days for students with disabilities and eliminate the prevalence of unreported early pickups across the state.
Special Education Services: Ensure that students with disabilities are being supported and are receiving a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Hold Local Education Agencies (LEAs) accountable and ensure the enforcement of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and Section 504. Finally, ensure that students with disabilities that have experienced a disruption in learning, services, or supports receive the compensatory services they are due.
Transition Planning: Increase the number of transition and employee designees (TEDs) in Texas to better accommodate the number of transition-age students in need of services. Strengthen policies and education around transition to include outcome measurements for the school and the student where the student is encouraged to take more responsibility for monitoring as they get closer to graduation. Establish and maintain accountability measures for schools who do not meet planning requirements.
Private School Vouchers and Students with Disabilities
Many disability advocates have significant concerns with the establishment of an Education Savings Account (ESA) Program for students with disabilities. These apprehensions are extensive, with the main concerns being the loss of legal protections for students and their families, the lack of academic and student outcome accountability in the private sector, and the segregation of students with disabilities.
TCDD has created this Private School Vouchers and Students with Disabilities (PDF) resource to detail the areas of concern and provide policy recommendations.
Higher Education Resource Guide for Students with Disabilities
This comprehensive guide includes information about higher education options for people with developmental disabilities. While the guide focuses mainly on attending college, it also touches on other options, such as online training as well as technical and trade schools. Additional options include job training programs, adult education programs, and new transition models for students with disabilities.
The Next Step: Video and Discussion Guide
To challenge students with disabilities to consider higher education, “The Next Step” presents the stories of five Texans with disabilities who enrolled in colleges, universities or technical schools.
Early Childhood Intervention Services
Early Childhood Intervention is a statewide program run by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) for families with children up to age 3 with DD or certain medical diagnoses that impact development. The program provides support to families as they learn how to help their children grow and learn. To learn more, visit the HHSC website.
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